New Yorker cartoonist Emily Flake and her husband John Pastore learn that action is eloquence in this audio game that combines famous Shakespeare scenes with pop songs.
(SOUNDBITE OF BOTTLE OPENING)
JONATHAN COULTON: Ophira, is that - did I just hear you - did you just open a beer?
OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:
Yeah. It's not like I have anywhere to drive.
COULTON: Yeah, no.
COULTON: That's true. I only ask because I'm - I also have a beer.
EISENBERG: Ah, nice. What do you got there?
COULTON: I have a Guinness draft...
COULTON: My one complaint about this Guinness draft is that I think it is the one that sat outside after a Fourth of July party several years ago...
EISENBERG: (Laughter) What?
COULTON: ...For a couple of days in the backyard, and then we put it in the cabinets. And we're like, we should throw that away, but then I didn't throw it away, and that - it happens to be the only beer I have in the house right now.
COULTON: But, you know, these are hard times, and we have to make - you go to war with the army you have.
EISENBERG: This week was hard, so I feel like any chance to have a little extra celebration - I knew that I was going to be able to talk to you, and I thought, oh, I will have a cocktail hour with Jonathan Coulton.
COULTON: Cocktail hour with Jonathan Coulton - isn't that nice?
EISENBERG: Yeah, it is nice.
COULTON: Just a couple of pals having cocktails together.
EISENBERG: Just a couple pals hanging out, doing a show. Do you want to play the song?
COULTON: Yeah, sure. I'll play the song.
EISENBERG: Yeah, excellent.
COULTON: Here we go.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
COULTON: From NPR and WNYC, coming to you from inside our respective homes in beautiful Brooklyn, N.Y., it's NPR's hour of puzzles, word games and sweatpants, ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm Jonathan Coulton. Now here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.
COULTON: So what's new with you, Ophira? What have you been up to?
EISENBERG: What have I done? I've accidently clicked on Instagram stories of people basically talking to the screen. And then they say, hello, Ophira.
COULTON: Like a live - yeah, one of the Instagram Live feeds, yeah.
EISENBERG: Yeah, 'cause they're - everyone's just talking to each other for all of us to be part of.
COULTON: Watch, sure.
EISENBERG: To watch, yeah. But it is weird that we are just throwing it all out there.
COULTON: Living my life through screens all the time is very - it's very wearying. I - you know, the thing about it - I have some friends who have taken to, you know, calling me - like, starting a FaceTime with me...
COULTON: ...Just out of the blue...
EISENBERG: Oh, no.
COULTON: ...Without any prep work, without any warning. And so suddenly, it's like their face is at my window.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) No. Yeah, right.
COULTON: Hi. Are you here? Are you here? You want to talk? And it's - I find it weirdly intrusive.
EISENBERG: Yeah. You can just see their thought. They're like, I'm just going to FaceTime with Jonathan right now, see what he's up to. And all of a sudden, you're like, uh (ph).
COULTON: Yeah, yeah. What are you doing in my house? That's what it feels like.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) It's like your annoying neighbor. Hi. Hi.
EISENBERG: I can see you're home.
COULTON: I knew you were home and I saw that you have $20, so I came by to borrow $20.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) So do you ignore them or do you pick them up?
COULTON: No, I pick them up because I'm terribly lonely.
EISENBERG: You know, and I do - I have had similar things, or even just phone calls. I do panic when someone calls me on the phone. And I really appreciate that some people know how to gracefully end a phone conversation because that is an art and it is a lost...
EISENBERG: ...Art. Because we all used to know how to do that - just find the natural ending, the natural closure, and leave.
COULTON: Right. My dad's thing is to say, well, I'll let you go. He says that every time.
EISENBERG: Oh, yeah. That's one of my favorites.
COULTON: Like he's doing me a favor.
EISENBERG: Right. Well, I know you, and I'm going to let you go.
COULTON: I know you're busy. I know you don't want to talk to me.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) You know, my mother always used to say, love you but leave you, at the end of a conversation.
COULTON: (Laughter) What is - that means I love you but I'm leaving right now - the conversation?
EISENBERG: You know, she would - you know, she lived in Canada for 50 years of her life, but it was always like she'd just gotten there.
EISENBERG: And so I feel like she would take little things, like, from songs or expressions or, you know, common sayings and she would just put them in her own interpretations.
COULTON: Assemble them into some new idea.
EISENBERG: That's right.
COULTON: That's pretty cute. I like that.
EISENBERG: Yeah. So at the end of the conversation, she'd be like, love you but leave you. I'd be like, I think that's what you say to someone when you're breaking up with them.
COULTON: (Laughter) One of the funniest things that a friend of mine ever did to me was I was talking to them on the phone, and it was nearing the end of the conversation, and they said, hey, tell me if this sounds like a phone hanging up. And then they hung up on me.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) No.
COULTON: And for a second, I was like, yeah, that really did sound - hello?
EISENBERG: That's terrible. Come on.
COULTON: No, it was a funny joke. I appreciated it.
EISENBERG: Yeah, that's on par with the first time and only the first time that someone's voicemail was, you know, the old, hello? Hello?
COULTON: I think my voicemail message is still like that.
COULTON: Sorry, everybody.
EISENBERG: That's great.
COULTON: Well, Ophira, I guess I'll let you go. Good to talk to you.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Hang on. Hang on. Hang on.
EISENBERG: You've got some time. I know you've got some time.
COULTON: (Laughter) I do. I have nothing but time.
EISENBERG: You know what I need? I need to do the show. It would really make me feel so much better.
COULTON: Yeah, I need to do the show, too.
COULTON: Let's do a show.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
EISENBERG: Let's do a show. We have a packed episode. On today's show, joining us from his famed garage, we have podcast icon and actor Marc Maron. And we have two lovely sets of contestants. We play some games with musicians Aimee Mann and Michael Penn. But first, we have New Yorker cartoonist Emily Flake and her husband, John Pastore. Just so you know, we had some technical difficulties when we recorded this, but it still works, I think. I have no idea. I haven't slept in days. It's all a bit of a blur.
COULTON: Yeah. I mean, look; we're all doing our best here.
EISENBERG: That's right.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
EISENBERG: Emily Flake - and we wrangled in your husband, John Pastore, into this - thanks.
JOHN PASTORE: Hello.
EISENBERG: So how are you guys doing? What are you doing to kind of keep sane?
EMILY FLAKE: Sane is not a metric I...
FLAKE: ...Acknowledge anymore.
FLAKE: I can't put a Do Not Disturb on my child, by the way, so I can't guarantee this is going to be completely...
EISENBERG: Totally fine.
FLAKE: ...All right.
EISENBERG: Totally fine, yeah. No, we've had lots of interruptions. It's part of what it is.
FLAKE: Yeah (laughter).
EISENBERG: Yeah. Emily, you've always been a baker. I know because I, well, know you in person, but also because you post the most amazing things that you have concocted all the time on Instagram. How's your baking game?
FLAKE: You know, the first couple weeks, I was doing a lot of, like, stress and quarantine baking because it made me feel better, and I haven't baked anything this week, in part because it seems almost wrong to partake in joy. I don't know.
FLAKE: That and my daughter asked me why I looked pregnant the other day, so there's that.
COULTON: Oh, that's nice.
COULTON: That's what you want to hear.
FLAKE: She always knows just what to say.
EISENBERG: You're like, great. Yeah. We all feel so close right now.
EISENBERG: Yeah. Are you guys doing anything for Passover or Easter in your house to have fun?
FLAKE: I actually bought both American Cadbury Creme Eggs and the parallel import British Cadbury Creme Eggs that you can get...
FLAKE: ...At a place in Park Slope a few weeks ago, so I'm going to hide those, let Tug find one and eat the rest myself.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) Just...
EISENBERG: How many do you have?
FLAKE: Like, eight.
EISENBERG: All right, we have a couple of games for you. What do you say? You want to play a couple games that have nothing to do with anything?
EISENBERG: Yeah, OK. So here's what we've got for you. We have a game called Speeches and Songs. So each clue is a mashup of two clips. The first is an actor performing a famous line from Shakespeare and the second is a pop song. So...
EISENBERG: ...You're just going to tell me the Shakespeare play or the song title or the band or artist, or you can just share a thought that you've had some time in your life. That would be fine as well.
FLAKE: This is not a softball question, man.
EISENBERG: I said you could share a thought. You can share a thought.
FLAKE: All right.
EISENBERG: We have loads of hints, and you'll be surprised...
EISENBERG: ...OK? All right. So, Emily, this is for you. The first part of this clue comes from Dominic West in a 1999 film adaptation.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM")
DOMINIC WEST: (As Lysander) The course of true love never did run smooth.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SMOOTH")
ROB THOMAS: (Singing) It's just like the ocean under the moon. Oh, it's the same as the emotion that I get from you.
FLAKE: OK, the Shakespeare clip was "Romeo And Juliet," and the song clip played every five seconds when I was a pizza delivery girl in Baltimore.
COULTON: That part is correct.
FLAKE: That's the name of that song, right?
EISENBERG: Yeah, it's called Emily's Pizza Delivery Career.
COULTON: Or the artist.
COULTON: You could also give us the artist.
EISENBERG: Yeah, that is correct. OK, so everyone thinks that quote is from "Romeo And Juliet," but it's Demetrius (ph) from "A Midsummer Night's Dream." But, yeah, that was "Smooth" - Santana featuring Rob Thomas, which makes just as much...
EISENBERG: ...Sense as Santana working with Shakespeare, I suppose.
EISENBERG: Yeah, I know (laughter).
COULTON: All right, John, here's one for you.
(SOUNDBITE OF PLAY, "AS YOU LIKE IT")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As Jaques) All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SHAKE IT OFF")
TAYLOR SWIFT: (Singing) Players gonna (play, play, play, play, play. And the haters gonna hate.
PASTORE: I have no hope for the Shakespeare. I'm not even going to take a stab at it. I secretly love that Taylor Swift song.
COULTON: It's a good song. It's a good song.
PASTORE: It's a great song. I'm embarrassed about it, but I think it is.
COULTON: There's no shame. There's no shame in loving Taylor Swift. The play was actually "As You Like It."
EISENBERG: Emily, here's Helen Mirren as Prospera in Julie Taymor's 2010 adaptation.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE TEMPEST")
HELEN MIRREN: (As Prospera) We are such stuff as dreams are made on.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SWEET DREAMS (ARE MADE OF THIS)")
EURYTHMICS: (Singing) Who am I to disagree? I travel the world.
FLAKE: Can I just say the song first? 'Cause that's...
FLAKE: ..."Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)" by the Eurythmics.
EISENBERG: That's right. That is correct.
FLAKE: And the play is a thing I should know.
EISENBERG: Is it?
FLAKE: I'm just - look; I'm going to guess "Romeo And Juliet" for everything because eventually we're going to get there even though I know that's not "Romeo And Juliet."
EISENBERG: Yeah, that's OK. That's "The Tempest."
EISENBERG: Yes. And, of course, you were...
FLAKE: I went to art school, man. What do you want?
EISENBERG: Listen; we didn't write this for you because of your Shakespeare knowledge. You're here because you guys are personalities and accomplished people who can play games, OK?
COULTON: That's right.
FLAKE: Thank you for making me feel better about knowing exactly one Shakespeare play.
COULTON: All right, John, this is for you. It's your last clue. Starts with Laurence Fishburne.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "OTHELLO")
LAURENCE FISHBURNE: (As Othello) I kissed thee ere I killed thee. No way but this, killing myself, to die upon a...
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THIS KISS")
FAITH HILL: (Singing) Kiss, this kiss.
PASTORE: I'm going to guess "Othello" for the quote, and I actually don't...
PASTORE: ...Know that song (laughter). And it doesn't have any memories or anything...
COULTON: You know what? You are correct. It is "Othello." Well done.
COULTON: Look at you. Look at you...
PASTORE: All right.
COULTON: ...Getting a Shakespeare play. And the song was actually Faith Hill, "This Kiss."
PASTORE: Oh. (Laughter) OK.
EISENBERG: I know. I got to say, though, that "Othello" - Laurence Fishburne, very seductive...
PASTORE: Yes (laughter).
EISENBERG: ...In that role.
EISENBERG: My goodness, all breathy and crazy.
FLAKE: Can we just play that again a few times?
COULTON: Yeah, a very sexy...
EISENBERG: (Laughter) I know.
COULTON: ...Death scene.
EISENBERG: It's the closest I'm getting to kissing during this whole pandemic, and I - my husband's with me.
EISENBERG: OK, guess what. It's a tie.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
EISENBERG: Yeah, yeah. You know...
FLAKE: Oh, our marriage is so equitable. We're both...
EISENBERG: Isn't it nice?
FLAKE: ...A little dumb.
EISENBERG: After the break, we'll play another game with our friends Emily Flake and John Pastore. And later, I'll talk to "WTF" podcast host and "GLOW" star Marc Maron. I'm Ophira Eisenberg, and this is ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.